Turkey’s president becomes latest leader to mediate the Gulf standoff

World Today

TURKEY-POLITICS-COUPA handout photo released by the Turkish Presidential Press Service shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivering a speech during the opening ceremony of the ‘July 15 Martyrs’ Monument’ at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on July 16, 2017, as part of the events held to mark one year since the July 15 defeat of the failed coup bid. (AFP PHOTO / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / MURAT CETIN MUHURDAR)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heads to the Gulf this weekend in an attempt to patch up the rift between Qatar and its neighbors. He becomes the latest in a line of leaders trying to mediate the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges.

CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports that mediation will be difficult.

Being a regional mediator has long been a goal of the Turkish government. Yet as the Qatar crisis lingers – that goal is proving to be a challenging one.

On June 5th Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations of terrorism funding. Initially, they had issued 13 demands – but are now calling for Qatar to accept six broad principles to combat terrorism and end acts of provocation. Qatar denies the accusations. Turkey has repeatedly called for political dialogue and has since met with leaders of both sides of the conflict.

When the crisis began, Turkey was quick to show solidarity with Qatar and Ankara has already sent Doha 200 cargo planes of aid and has expedited the deployment of Turkish troops to Doha. But prior to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the region, Turkish Presidential spokesperson also emphasized the significance of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in resolving the crisis.

“I want to emphasize how much importance our President puts on the role of the Saudi King,” said Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Erdogan. “Since Saudi Arabia is the most powerful and significant country in the region, a constructive role by this nation is extremely important. In the same way, the mediation efforts of the Emir of Kuwait are also very valuable. “

During a recent visit to Ankara, Qatar’s foreign minister stressed they too were eager to end the crisis.

“Qatar maintains its intention to enter a dialogue as long as it is within the framework of mutual respect for each nation’s sovereignty and respect for international law,” said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

For Turkey, it is critical to keep a balanced distance between both sides of the dispute. Qatar is a major investor in Turkey and has a long term natural gas deal with Ankara, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates bought 8.6 billion dollars’ worth of exports last year.